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Mechanical property characterization of LPCVD silicon nitride thin films at cryogenic temperatures

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4 Author(s)
Wen-Hsien Chuang ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA ; T. Luger ; R. K. Fettig ; R. Ghodssi

T-shape, LPCVD silicon nitride cantilevers are fabricated to determine Young's modulus and fracture strength of silicon nitride thin films at room and cryogenic temperatures. A helium-cooled measurement setup is developed and installed inside a focused-ion-beam (FIB) system. A lead-zirconate-titanate (PZT) translator powered by a function generator and a dc voltage is utilized as an actuator, and a silicon diode is used as a temperature sensor in this setup. Resonant frequencies of identical cantilevers with different "milling masses" are measured to obtain thickness and Young's modulus of the silicon nitride thin films, while a bending test is performed to obtain fracture strength. From the experiment, the average Young's modulus of low-pressure chemical-vapor deposition (LPCVD) silicon nitride thin films varies from 260.5 GPa at room temperature (298 K) to 266.6 GPa at 30 K, and the average fracture strength ranges from 6.9 GPa at room temperature to 7.9 GPa at 30 K. The measurement setup and technique presented here can be used to characterize the mechanical properties of different MEMS materials at cryogenic temperatures.

Published in:

Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 5 )